Photo Props

I am trying to learn how to transition as a creative person into a creative leader.

It’s not easy.

Moving from being the person who “does” to the person who “leads” takes a shift in mindset, approach, and confidence.

I even had a friend of mine explain the process to me this way:  “You have to redefine what success looks like” in order to grow.

While it is uncomfortable, it is amazingly rewarding finding new ways to empower people to do their best work every day. You watch them grow, develop, contribute and be consumed with their opportunities.

I recently was reading an interesting article by Jordan Cohen about the power of empowering people to do their best work. Cohen’s main thesis included a simple truth that can change everything when working with artists.

When we tell people what to do, most of the time, the will do it. And likely that is all they will do.

But when we tell people, especially creative people, what we are trying to achieve it changes everything. Telling people what we are trying to achieve empowers them to be creative, use their skills, develop amazing solutions, innovate new ideas, and ultimately be amazingly fulfilled by their work.

But that takes trust. Rarely do trust and control live together.

Explaining the outcome is exciting, empowering and inclusive. When we tell people what to do, especially people who are creative, leaders or driven, we actually forfeit their ability to do their best work. Sure, they will do what they are told for a season, but they become disengaged, removed, bored, and start to look for new challenges.

It’s natural to fight this I think, we empower people…they don’t do what we think they should do or do not produce the results we think should be produced and we lean in. We manage harder and more directly. And what we don’t realize is that as leaders we are costing ourselves long-term success with short term gain. If we want the best we have to trust OUR best to create THEIR best.

Again, this is not easy. But I am thankful to be learning this lesson. Leadership is not about what I want; leadership is about what is best.

So the next time things don’t go the way we want, rather than reacting, we need to respond by reframing the results we desire from the process.

I’m trying to learn to lead better, trust more, and empower others. I want to frame results more than I manage process…how about you?

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